WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

All you need to know about Top 25 battle between No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 24 Florida State

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

No. 24 Florida State (18-4, 7-2 ACC) vs. No. 7 Notre Dame (16-2, 7-1).

  • WHEN: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • WHERE: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), Notre Dame.
  • TICKETS: Available.
  • WATCH: RSN (Marquee / 202 on Comcast).
  • LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM; link at UND.com).

More:Grading Notre Dame women's basketball at mid-season

ABOUT FLORIDA STATE

The Seminoles’ hot start comes in large part to star freshman guard Ta’niya Latson.

The Seminoles feature national freshman of the year favorite Ta’Niya Latson. The 5-8 guard from Miami is averaging 23.6 points (first in the ACC, sixth in the nation), 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals. She’s shooting 47% from the field overall, 36% on 3s and regularly gets to the line, where she’s at 87%. Latson’s No. 1 in the nation with 142 made free throws and second in attempts at 163. Coming out of high school, she was the 14th-ranked player in her class by ESPN. … Other leaders for FSU, which moved into the AP poll this week, include 6-2 sophomore forward Makayla Timpson (13.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 61.9% from the field, which is tops in the ACC) and 5-7 senior guard Sara Bejedi (11.9 points). Six other individuals are averaging 4.4 to 7.7 points apiece, including grad point guard Jazmine Massengill (5.7 points, 4.0 assists), who spent two years each at Tennessee and Kentucky. … The Seminoles are fourth in the nation among 361 Division I teams in scoring at 85.8 points per game (ND’s 17th at 79.7), sixth in pace of play (ND’s 56th) and 12th in average margin (ND’s seventh). … FSU, after being picked before the season to finish ninth in the ACC by a panel of coaches and media, stands third, just a half-game behind ND and Duke. Wins include 78-71 at then-No. 13 North Carolina and a 91-72 whipping of then-No.11 North Carolina State. … The Seminoles were 0-11 all-time against the Irish before winning 70-65 last February in Tallahassee.

More:Injured Dara Mabrey announces end to Notre Dame playing career

ABOUT NOTRE DAME

Jan 16, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Sonia Citron (11) and guard Dara Mabrey (1) signal for possession in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish embark on their first game since learning Monday that grad guard Dara Mabrey’s college career is over after the major knee and leg injuries she suffered two minutes into Sunday’s 76-54 win against Virginia. Statistically, Mabrey (9.3 ppg) was easily ND’s top 3-point shooter in terms of volume (she’d taken nearly 45% of the team’s long-distance shots before Sunday), but the Irish appear well-equipped to compensate, at least relative to losing her on-court swag and wisdom. Sonia Citron stepped up to drain 6-of-7 on 3s against the Cavaliers, improving to a sparkling 24-of-50 on the season. Further, Olivia Miles has been more inclined to take, and make, triples over her last three outings at 5-of-13 (after being 7-of-34 through 15 games), while Maddy Westbeld is 14-of-37 for 38%. … Miles continues to lead the Irish in scoring (15.6), rebounding (7.3), assists (7.2) and steals (2.3), while fellow sophomore Citron is at 13.6 points and 6.3 boards. Westbeld is averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks; Lauren Ebo 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds; freshman KK Bransford 7.9 points; and Kylee Watson 6.6 points. ... ND’s fifth in the nation in rebounding rate at 57.7% (FSU’s 76th at 52.7) and 27th in net field goal percentage at 51.8% (FSU’s 61st at 49.7). … Handling some of the backup point guard duties vacated by virtue of Mabrey’s injury, Jenna Brown played 15 minutes Sunday and dished three assists against one turnover to go with two points and her first blocked shot of the season. She’d been averaging seven minutes per team contest and had not appeared in ND’s previous two games.

QUOTING

Dec 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Jenna Brown (0) looks to pass as Merrimack Warriors guard Lydia Melaschenko (22) defends in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. It’s difficult, but talking with Coach (Niele Ivey), it’s always better to be ready and not be called than to be called and not be ready. It’s definitely mentally a difficult thing to do, but it’s just something that’s part of the game, and part of being on a really good team.” — Jenna Brown, Notre Dame guard, on staying ready when seeing limited action.

— By Anthony Anderson